Increase the Joy! Decrease the Drama!

Originally published October 2, 2011.


Managing Your Emotions Series

An Increasing Joy & Decreasing Drama tips thread is going to pop up here from time to time.


The tips’ll sometimes be an expressive art exercise for us to do together, sometimes it’ll be a post about a positive experience meant to uplift, and sometimes it’ll be a relaxation or mindfulness technique.


Let me know what you use to help yourself with depression and anxiety.


Music? Journaling? Being a member of an online forum? Blogging?


All of the above?


I’d love to hear about how you manage your emotions and cope.


There are many tools for managing your emotions and navigating through life. If you grow up in a good enough home, you learn some foundation techniques, and add more as you mature. If you grow up in a not so good home, like an abusive, confusing home, your emotional skills might be a bit stunted (hey – but not always!).


The good news is that there are so many ways to expand your emotional repertoire! So many ways to help yourself at home!


If you choose the therapy route, you know, a good therapist generally begins with a client centered foundation of unconditional positive regard, and adds tools of cognitive behavioral therapy (also called thought-reframing), expressive art exercises, mindfulness training, relaxation skills, positive communication skills, with the goal of helping you to increase your ability to tolerate and label a range of emotions (also called emotional intelligence).


Marcia Linehan, PhD, (developer of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT) created a structured plan to manage depression and anxiety (and well, ah, just life). She says the goal of therapy is to decrease reactivity & emotionality and increase positive feelings and behaviors.


What? Oh!! Therapy-speak for Increase the JOY! Decrease the drama!


Let’s do an expressive art exercise to increase awareness about where you’ve been. This is meant to be FUN, it is NOT meant to stress you out, make you nuts! It’s a right brain thing, an inner child thing!


Your Life Line


This exercise helps you create a visual perspective on your life, like where you’ve been, the obstacles you’ve overcome, and the strength and wisdom you’ve gained.


Gather up some supplies:

  • magazines

  • colorful pencils, markers, crayons

  • scrapbooking materials you might have laying around from WalMart (LOL)

  • feathers, buttons, sewing findings, etc

  • leftover pieces of fabric

  • your own pictures you might want to include

  • stickers left over from your kid’s projects (stars, etc)

  • colored string, yarn

Use either a large piece of paper or tape a five or so pieces of 8 1/2” x 11” paper together in a long string. You can cut the 8 1/2” by 11 paper down to 5” x 11”.


Starting with your the day of your birth, mark the year at the top of the page. Mark five year increments along the top of the page.


At each year increment, draw or paste a symbol of how you felt or what you were doing, or what was affecting you at that time. Use colors to express mood and feeling.


Don’t be shy; it is for you only. It is a sort of a life review, you are to allow yourself to experience how you have grown over the years.


Have fun!